My visit with Jared was wonderful. I was so amazed when I walked into his room for the first time. He was wiggling around in bed, his movements were so much stronger and faster. He turned his head an looked at us as we walked into the room. He embarrassed each of us as we leaned in for hugs. Jared kept trying to speak but none of us could understand what he was saying. After several guesses we gave Jared a pen and paper. At first he was trying to write at the top of the paper but was missing it completely, he has severe double vision from the brain damage. When we finally adjusted the paper under his pen he began to write. We all sat there silently as we watched him write "I love", in unison we read the words then sat in silence for a few moments. Finally I broke the silence asking Jared "Who do you love?". Secretly hoping he remembered how to write my name I watched him lift the tip of the pen and point to his mother's hand.
Jared focused most of his attention on his mother, taking her hand and kissing it, staring at her as if she seemed familiar, and reaching out for her.
It was late so we only spent a few minutes with him before checking into our own room. My heart ached after I left the hospital. I couldn't help but to wonder if Jared remembered me at all. Sometimes brain damage erases years of memory, what if I had been erased? Tears burned my eyes as I tried to push those thoughts away. I live on those memories every single day, they push me when I feel like giving up. They make me smile when I feel like crying and they soften my heart when it hardens with frustration. How could Jared live without those memories? Those memories were our life, our love, and our happiness. How could we be without.........us?
I laid in bed and squeezed my eyes shut. I wanted to pray but I had no idea what to say to God, I thought about it for a while and asked God for a dream. I laid there praying over and over asking God to send me a wonderful dream about Jared, until I finally fell asleep.
I woke up the next morning (Thursday 11-12-09) sore from the ride and excited to see Jared participate in his therapies. We had a busy day rolling Jared from one therapy to the next. I talked to Dr. Mac about the surgery and the delays. I asked him if Jared could come home for Christmas, he didn't say no, he told me didn't think it would be good for Jared. After they place the Baclofen pump it will take up to a month to adjust the dosage correctly, riding in a plane can mess with the pump's settings. I also wouldn't want to risk having something go wrong with it, we don't have a doctor here familiar with Jared's condition. I also thought Jared may still be sore from surgery and traveling may cause him pain. Considering all those things I decided not to bring Jared home for the holidays.
Jared's therapist's were excited to show me what Jared could do. In speech therapy he was able to mimic noises. He was also able to say my name. Mrs. M showed me the computer Jared has been working with. It has a touch screen and Mrs. M asks Jared to pick out certain objects on the screen. Jared made a good effort but his double vision makes him push the wrong objects sometimes. I was also able to watch him eat ice. I was amazed at how well he was functioning.
Next we went to physical therapy. Mrs. S showed me that Jared was able to pull himself into a sitting position and sit for a few minutes unassisted. Jared was also able to kick his right leg up and forward. I watched as Mrs. S held her hand up beside her, she instructed Jared to kick her hand, after several tries he finally did. Last was the grand finally, Mrs. S was especially proud of this accomplishment. She instructed Jared to move his left foot, he pulled his foot up several times! It was only a slight movement, but he did it. Jared was also able to hold his left leg up off the mat, usually he lets if fall to the side when he's laying on his back. I thought I was going to burst with excitement, I hadn't seen Jared move his left leg/foot like that since the accident. This gives us hope that the surgery will help him regain more function. Maybe one day he will be able to stand or walk.
At lunch Jared was able to communicate which foods he wanted to eat with gestures. He was able to feed himself, drink, and lick food from his lips. He even picked the table we sat at, apparently I picked the wrong one and he let me know about it.
We played a game in recreational therapy. He answered true or false trivia questions with head nods. Some of the answers were wrong but was able to participate. He said the word "yellow" to choose his game piece rather than pointing.
As the day progressed Jared began interacting with me more. He seemed to enjoy my hugs and he kissed me several times. He suggested that my shirt was cut too low (it wasn't!) by trying to pull my shirt up to cover my chest.
That afternoon I was so tired, after Jared's therapies we took a nap. I pushed Jared' s wheelchair next to his bed and climbed in. I laid there with my lower body in Jared's bed and my upper body cradled in Jared's arms. This was the moment I had driven two days to have, it was completely worth it.
After dinner they put Jared into bed. We laid in bed watching TV for a while. I was so happy to be back in Jared's arms. I used to tell him that his arms were my favorite place, I fit perfectly.
Friday (11-13-09) we repeated the same therapies. I spoke with the nutritionist, she wanted to put Jared back on some of the tube feedings. They switched his diet a step up from pureed foods to mechanical soft. Jared was having a hard time chewing the meats and wasn't getting enough protein. I asked her to let me try a few things before she ordered more tube feedings, she agreed to give him a few more days.
The day drug buy so slowly, all I wanted to do was lay in bed with Jared holding me.
That night I laid in bed talking with Jared. I told him I loved him and asked him if he remembered me, he nodded yes. I asked if he remembered Tyson and Catlin, again he nodded yes. He also claimed to remember the accident with another head nod. Jared and I wound up in a mini make out session before I tore myself away so he could get some sleep.
Saturday (11-14-09) I woke up with a mission to get more protein in Jared. I brain stormed and did some google searches trying to figure out things I could make or buy for him. I wished I could cook him his favorite foods, I pictured how our family dinners would be when he was finally able to come home. While I was on the computer I remembered had an account at Pandora.com. I logged him in and played the Temptations station. Jared's mother teared as we sat there singing "My Girl". Jared's lips moved with the words of the song, no noise came out as he sat there bobbing his head, drumming his fingers, and singing my girl to the end. As the song finished I sat there remembering the video he sent me while he was deployed. I watch this video all the time, sometimes it makes me smile, sometimes it makes me cry. Jared didn't know how much I would cherish this silly video when he sent it to me as a joke.
Saturday afternoon I went shopping for Jared. I bought him some Muscle Milk to make protein shakes with. I also bought several other things packed with protein so he would have some alternatives if he wasn't able to eat what they were feeding him.
That night I laid in Jared's bed, it was so hard to hold back the tears as I told him I would be leaving the next morning. He fell asleep while I was kissing him softly on his neck and whispering in his ear, "You are perfect, God made you just for me." "I will love you forever, I can't help it, I never could." "You are mine forever and I always be here taking care of you.".
I tried to ease out of his bed several times. Each time I pulled away Jared woke up and pulled me back to him, he would lean forward and give me a passionate open mouth kiss. He held me tight until he drifted back to sleep, waking as again as I tried to leave.
I can't find the words to describe the pain I felt as I left the hospital that night. It gets harder each time I say goodbye.
November 24th was our second anniversary. Two years ago I married Jared, I kissed him goodbye soon after and waited for him to return from war. I remember telling him how much I loved him, I told him that no matter what he was coming home to me. I told him I wanted him no matter what happened that I would always love him. I said to him "Dead, alive, legless, or brain damaged...your coming home to me. I will take care of you, you belong to me now."
Jared came home to me, alive and completely healthy. He flew into the US on our one year anniversary. We were finally able to start our lives together.
Now our second anniversary has come, again I am waiting for Jared's return.